Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Well, I jumped on the Arduino bandwagon.  Definitely coming late to this one, but it seems a hot topic right now (meaning, I have 3 friends that are really excited about Arduinos right now, one being Moose, the post-doc at Friday Harbor that I'll be working with.  Yes, he goes by Moose and you'll hear more about him).

For those still new to the bandwagon, Arduinos are the new wave of opensource, multipurpose microprocessors.  Yay!  What does that mean?

They are basically mini computers, about the size of a well-made S'mores.  They got a couple inputs and outputs, and as I've learned are great at controlling simple stuff, like stepper motors and your roomate's alarm clock on April first.

The best part is that they can be controlled by their own, open-source programming language.  So you can give them a set of commands, and they run like a super simple computer.  Open-source is key here as it aides laziness- you don't need to program it from scratch, but can use any one of the many programs other people have kindly made available all around the internets.

Only two pieces left to buy now, a moving platform to hold the microscope, and the glass plates for spores to settle.  Unfortunately I found out that McMaster-Carr (the number one online source for raw materials) does not sell glass sheets in 2 foot lengths, so need to find another option.

I swear one of these days I will upload schematic diagrams so you can understand how this all fits together.  Not now though.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

First purchases

Alright, the project has started!  Put in my first orders for the microscopes and raw materials from the flume.   You can see them updated on the expenses page.

Already creating problems, as I'm waiting to hear back from McMaster on the price of custom-cut glass sheets.  I'd like to have a glass bottom for the spores to settle on, but if McMaster charges me through the roof, I'll have to settle for some scratch-resistant acrylic or something lame like that.  Fingers crossed!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Welcome backers!

If you got here, you must have backed my project, Mystery of the Tiny Algal Spore on Petridish.  Thanks so much for the support!  Through my project, I will post updates to the blog, so to follow along, I'd suggest subscribing to or bookmarking this blog.  For the first couple posts, I'll update on Petridish when I post here, but eventually I'll just post here.

A quick preview of the schedule: I will be spending the next month or so buying supplies and building prototypes for this summer.  Then on June 5th, I will fly to Seattle, where I'll catch a bus to a ferry and head to the beautiful San Juan Island for a month.  There, I will work in Dr. Emily Carrington's lab at Friday Harbor Laboratory to do the project I described on Petridish.  Finally, I will leave the island on July 31st and fly back to California, with hopefully a completed project